Mr de la Renta at the CFDA Met Gala in 2011 with Penelop Cruz
As if Oscar de la Renta’s supremely ladylike clothes didn’t come to life enough on his vibrant runways, when you hear that respected journalists have dubbed him ‘as suave as it gets’, ‘Couture Conquisatdor’ or the ‘Guru of Glamour’ over the years, you realise the ODLR effect spins a full 360 degrees.
This Monday the impressively well-maintained 80-year-old designer will receive the ‘Founder's Award’ at New York’s annual CFDAs: completing a neat circle (just like his hemlines) ODLR was twice the president of this industry event back in the ‘70s.
With over half a century in the fashion business, de la Renta has shaped the chic landscape of New York design, experienced countless major moments and received more accolades than, well, you can shake a embroidered taffeta skirt at. His wares continue to be popular amongst Upper East Side princesses, red carpet starlets, royaly, socialist sets and beyond, so as our counterparts across the pond gear up to honour this fine talent, we wanted to fill you in on 10 things to know about ODLR. Come Monday, you’ll be an expert….
1. ODLR is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent and his full name is (take a breath): Óscar Aristides de la Renta Fiallo.
Oscar's Balmain work featured in Vogue March 1999
2. He studied fashion in Spain (after being encouraged by his priest!), worked initially in Madrid under Cristobal Balenciaga ‘picking up pins’ (before the label relocated to it’s current home, Paris). The bold and confident ODLR bought himself a ticket to the City of Light and knocked on the biggest door he could find, Dior. “This was the time when YSL had just left Dior…” He told Alexander Wang during an interview for Style.com, “I saw a lady who was running the studio, Madame Marguerite, and she offered me a job. I had been in Paris twenty-four hours, and I already had a job at Dior.” Not bad. ODLR has also work at Lanvin and Balmain.
3. His early fashion supporters were Diana Vreeland and Elizabeth Arden. De la Renta told Wang, “I went to see Mrs. Vreeland in that red room of hers, you know, and she said, "Young man, tell me what you want to do." And I said, "Mrs. Vreeland, I think the future of fashion is ready-to-wear." And she said, "Well, in that case I think you should go to Elizabeth Arden," where I was going to be making another custom-made collection. I thought she misunderstood me. "But at Arden, I'll be doing the same thing I was doing in Paris," I said. And she said, "Yes, but if you take the Dior job, it will be much more difficult to make a name for yourself, because you'll be working behind a very big name. At Elizabeth Arden, you'll be able to make a name for yourself."
4. Hilary Clinton will be presenting her designer friend with his award on Monday night. Have we ever seen scrunchie-loving Hilary at the CFDAs before? And will she wear a scrunchie with an ODLR ensemble? We hope not.
Wintour and de la Renta are FFF (that's Fashion Friends Forever)
5. He’s super-pally with Anna Wintour. Well, to last that long in the New York fashion scene, you’d probably have to be. Miss Wintour often wear’s ODLR’s fit’n’flare frocks or smart skirt suits and many of his clothes continue to grace the covers of US Vogue. The editrix has said, “Everything Oscar does is feminine, romantic, and appropriate.”
6. He was once a personal couturier to Jackie Kennedy.
7. He has been quite publicly in opposition of Michelle Obama’s look and sales clout. In addition to his shock at FLOTUS choosing Brit label Alexander McQueen to wear to a foreign trade dinner in China, he has also remarked that “It is a relation that began poorly and I think it will end the same way,” and that he doesn’t worry about dressing her because “an anonymous woman on the street is the woman who influences fashion today, not a movie star or a first lady.”
One of Oscar's special creations for The Outnet, modelled by Olivia Palermo
8. Earlier this year, The Outnet worked with Oscar to create a special, limited edition capsule collection, modelled by uptown girl and modern ODLR rep, Olivia Palermo. Some pieces are still available, yay!
Can you see the Galliano influence?
9. He recently opened up his studio to John Galliano – although the designer was only in the studio for a reported three weeks, his effect and signature style could certainly be seen in the autumn/winter 2013: “Certain looks seemed very much to bear the Englishman's hand, especially the opening jackets with their draped necklines and flaring hips,” mused Style.com’s Nicole Phelps after the show.
Nicole Kidman and Fan Bing Bing in ODLR gowns
10. ODLR's celebrity fanbase today is very varied: Nicole Kidman, Selena Gomez, Fan Bing Bing, Beyonce and Jessica Biel are just a handful of followers.